Five Ways to Wear a Boyfriend Cardigan

ways to wear a boyfriend cardigan I got a request from a reader to show different ways to wear a boyfriend cardigan.  I didn’t realize that I have featured many draped cardigans in the past but never a boyfriend cardigan.  Loving boyfriend cardigans, myself, I was happy to oblige.

ways to wear a boyfriend cardiganI have a navy boyfriend cardigan from Coolibar that I love.  I wore it all last year with everything.  I particularly loved it with a coral dress I owned and also in a simple way with a white tank, jeans and these amazing Sam Edleman platform Romy flip flops in coral neon.  Sadly, broke on Labor Day when I tripped on a crack on the sidewalk.  God, I was so mad to lose those fun shoes because they added so much pop to many of my outfits.

Anyway, enough of my reminiscing on lost shoes, back to boyfriend cardigans.

Boyfriends work well because they offer coverage while being more streamlined and slimming compared to drapey cardigans.  There are times when a cleaner line is what is required to make a great outfit.  To show you ways to wear a boyfriend cardigan I chose J. Crew’s classic merino cardigan in dark artichoke.

There is a reason I chose to use an olive cardigan, especially this shade of olive that is a bit more muted and will work with a variety of skin tones, I wanted to also talk about the versatility of this fabulous color.  Like other neutral shades, any color you can wear with black you can wear with olive.  Check out the below outfits for all the ways to not only wear a boyfriend but some ideas on how to wear olive.

Five ways to wear a boyfriend cardigan

Outfit #1- With jeans

One Item, Five Fashionable Ways. Look 5


The first and most obvious choice is to style a boyfriend cardigan with jeans, like these from Vince Camuto, and a white layered top from Zara.  By creating such a neutral base, you are free to style whatever colors you want to with this base.  In this outfit, I started with a colorful necklace from Modcloth.  Having a necklace like this is great because it allows you to create a variety of different color combinations using one necklace.  Based off these necklace colors, I could add teal, orange, red and purple.  In this outfit, I chose to go with purple and styled the outfit with this handbag from Nine West which adds pop while also complementing one of the colors in the necklace.  For shoes, I chose my favorite flats in neutral, Ellen ballerinas by Vince Camuto.

Outfit #2- With a khaki skirt

One Item, Five Fashionable Ways. Look 4
As a layering piece with this basic khaki skirt and white Uniqlo t-shirt, this cardigan not only adds a layer of warmth but a layer of finish.  For a casual look, I added a pair of navy Boden sandals, a brown wristlet by Kenneth Cole, and finished the outfit with a necklace from Stella & Dot, which I used in last week’s post on how to wear a v-neck sweater, and a blue bracelet.
With just a shoe change this could be a great outfit for a casual workplace.  That’s the beauty of a cardigan like this, it is both casual and workplace appropriate.
Outfit #3- With a work dress
One Item, Five Fashionable Ways. Look 3


Speaking of work, with a dress, a boyfriend cardigan can be a jacket replacement that creates a slightly more casual look while still looking professional.  Here I styled the cardigan with a red and white dress from Boden, used a versatile metallic tote, a pair of gold hoops and a peep-toe pair of cognac pumps.  I love olive and red together.

Outfit #4- With khaki pants

One Item, Five Fashionable Ways. Look 1

With a pair of khaki pants (either for casual or professional) a boyfriend cardigan can be a great addition.  I love coral and olive, so I paired this coral tank (which comes in a variety of colors, all which would work with great with olive) and a pair of turquoise d’orsay flats from Anthropologie.  The outfit is finished with the same metallic tote,  Stella & Dot necklace, used earlier, and dove stud earrings from Foxy Originals.

Outfit #5- With a casual summer dress

One Item, Five Fashionable Ways. Look 2
This olive cardigan goes great with many casual prints, like the print in this dress from Mango.  With this print, it is easy to pull the pop colors out of the print and add them as accents to the outfit.  Here, I chose a pair of pink wedges by UGG, a pair of green beaded cluster hoops from Kenneth Jay Lane, a gold cuff and the same wristlet used earlier.

Shop for boyfriend cardigans

  • Pat

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!! All my colors and your timing is perfect. My husband and I will be visiting three national parks next month with stop overs in Las Vegas. How to make a light olive colored cardigan work for all occasions?? You’ve nailed it for me!! Because my sweater is a light olive I’ll use a darker tank color and scarf for dinner at the lodge; with Smartwool longsleeve tee for outdoors, and a glitzy tank for Las Vegas. Yeah!! Now I am ready to pack with very few clothing items.

    Thank you again, you are genius!!

    A faithful fan

    • Hi Pat, How funny is it that I picked an olive boyfriend cardigan? I just loved the color and found it very versatile and perfect for a variety of skin tones. Enjoy your trip!

  • Nan

    That’s it! I’m the requester and I truly appreciate your prompt reply and wonderful ideas! Now I’m on the hunt for that olive color, but meanwhile I’ve been inspired by your fresh color combining skills. My dark gray cardi & dark jeans I’ve lightened up with white tee, blush clutch and blush & rhinestone flat oxfords. And I’m bringing my burgundy cardi into spring over a candy pink tee, open-weave multicolor fringe scarf and gray jeans. The scarf has all those colors and more, so it really works! What fun and thanks again!

    • Aha! Thanks, it was driving me crazy who made the request! It was a great one. I am glad it helped you. If it is any help, and you can’t find an olive cardigan, you can probably do all of the above with your grey one! I LOVE, love, love, love, how you are styling it! A blush clutch? Yum! Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Jamie in Texas


  • Judy

    I love wearing boyfriend cardigans and have them in many colors. I am never sure about when to button, when to half button and when to leave open. What do you think?

    • Hi! I always leave the bottom button undone, sometimes the bottom two. Thanks for your question!

  • Alicen

    With cardigans in general, I’m never sure if I should be buttoning them all the way or buttoning the bottom half only, and is it still appropriate to fasten only a couple of buttons under the bust or was that over 10 years ago?
    I have a variety of cardigans (no boyfriend ones though) and I’m never sure how much to button. Thanks!

    • There really isn’t a hard fast rule but the general rule of thumb is if you button it to leave the bottom button undone. This is the same for blazers. I hope that helps!